As part of our #HereForDerby campaign, we spoke to Kellie Townes, Livewell Customer and Marketing Coordinator and Rob Smithers, Livewell Treatment Manager, about how their roles have changed during the pandemic and the ways they are helping keep Derby fit and healthy.

Prior to the lockdown, both Kellie and Rob worked in the Council House. Kellie’s role covers the Livewell contact centre, as well as looking after marketing for the service, such as social media. Rob’s role surrounds accountability for the service, which includes the fulfilment of contractual obligations.

Now they are both working from home. Kellie is running the Livewell call centre out of her dining room, and Rob, while continuing with his previous duties, is helping by delivering nicotine replacement therapy once a week to help clients quit smoking.

Social distancing measures have meant that Livewell have had to get creative in the way that they treat clients and provide advice. They recently started providing phone appointments as part of the stop smoking service.

There have been aspects of the new ways of working that the team think they’ll continue to make use of once lockdown measures have been eased.

Kellie said: “We used to run all stop smoking appointments face-to-face. This meant that some clients, particularly those who had recently been in hospital, struggled to travel to see us. Our new phone appointments give clients the flexibility to talk to us from their own homes, and have treatments delivered to them.

“We’re even trialling virtual group meetings for our weight management clients, and if this takes off successfully, we may well bring this forward, too.”

Public Health England have advised that smoking, as it damages the lungs, leaves individuals more at risk to the effects of coronavirus, as it is a respiratory disease. The Livewell team have been keeping up to date with the latest guidance and encouraging clients to consider quitting where they can to prevent the risk of severe symptoms, should they catch COVID-19.

Rob, through his nicotine replacement therapy deliveries, has had experience of working directly with clients who are trying to quit as the pandemic continues.

Rob said: “I recently visited an elderly couple who have smoked for 40+ years, who are now trying to quit as they are concerned about the impact coronavirus would have on them, should they catch it. It was very rewarding to be able to provide help and support to them by delivering treatments to them and reassuring them that they are making the best possible choice to keep healthy right now.”

Talking about what makes her proud of the Livewell team, Kellie added:

“I think when we work with someone who has their life significantly changed by Livewell. We do get clients who have been predicted to only live a few years by their doctors due to smoking or obesity and being able to turn this around through their willpower and our support is so rewarding. It’s fantastic to see the difference the work of our team can make to people’s lives.”

Although they can’t be together to keep fit, the Livewell team are running campaigns to ensure their clients (and themselves!) take care of their physical health during the lockdown. They have been running a ‘virtual relay’ on social media, including volunteers and team members from other areas in the Council.

Talking to Derby citizens as a whole, they were both clear on their message to smokers.

Rob said: “It’s also crucial that people understand that quitting smoking doesn’t just improve your health in a very long-term sense – your lungs can start the healing process and fighting off infections from really early on into quitting.”

Kellie added: “There’s really never been a better time to quit smoking, and the Livewell service is a great place to start. It’s been proven that individuals are four times more likely to quit smoking for good if they use a support service like Livewell rather than quitting ‘alone’.”

To learn more about the Livewell service, the team and success stories, visit the website, Facebook or Twitter page.